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The Privatization of American National Security The Princeton Project on National Security Conference



from across the political spectrum met at the Rohaytn Center, on October 9, for a working conference on national security. As part of the nonpartisan Princeton Project on National Security, cochaired by Anthony Lake and George Shultz, the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University hosted the conference. The Princeton Project aims to move beyond the current debate and standard ways of thinking about national security to develop innovative approaches that address military, economic, political, and social threats and opportunities. POLICY MAKERS

Conference participants (left to right) Alex Knott, Charlotte Tate, Edward Soyster, Richard Cooper, John Hamre, and Felix Rohatyn stand outside the Robert A. Jones ’59 House.

“Privatization issues are an important part of what has changed in the foreign policy landscape, not only the privatization of military services but also of aid and development services provided through NGOs,” said Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter. During the conference, expert panels examined the forces pushing privatization, considered the legitimacy and effectiveness of privatized security operations, and discussed how the government could better coordinate public and private efforts. Compared to regular military deployments, private military corporations (PMCs) offer the flexibility of “expertise quickly, designed exactly as you want it, with

staying power,” said retired Army general Ed Soyster, special assistant to the Secretary of the Army and former vice president for international operations at Military Professional Resources, Inc. Peter Singer, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that “the U.S. could not have done the war in Iraq without PMCs, but some of the most controversial aspects have involved private contractors.” More generally, Singer questioned the legitimacy of “public policy through private means.” “When the tolerance of the American people for casualties is low and administrative will to reshape the general security environment is high, outsourcing is a path of least political resistance,” said Allison Stanger, director of the Rohatyn Center. She added that “having civilian contractors perform what have in the past been noncivilian tasks inevitably blurs the line between legitimate and illegitimate violence, yet standard definitions of terrorism rely on a clear distinction between combatants and noncombatants. Outsourcing renders the very definition of terrorist activity itself ever more problematic, since it appears to challenge the state’s perceived monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.” Lamenting the lack of U.S. planning and capacity to rebuild Iraq, retired Army general William Odom dubbed current operations “colonialism by ventriloquism.” That is, the U.S. is paying the Iraqis to say what it wants them to say. However, Odom felt the deeper question is, “Where does the U.S. want to provide surrogate government? If you are going to succeed at this, you have to choose your cases.” Somewhat ironically, members of the private security industry are lobbying governments to regulate them, because they need formal, legal status and legitimacy to work effectively. “The government does not know best how to mobilize national capacity,” said Christopher Beese, chief administrative officer of ArmorGroup International Ltd. He called for regulation and positive engagement with the industry, in order to build a public-private partnership that will offer cost-effective, flexible solutions. Beese also claimed that the United Nations had done a far better job of

Conferences and Symposia




RCFIA Annual Report 2004-2005  

RCFIA Annual Report 2004-2005

RCFIA Annual Report 2004-2005  

RCFIA Annual Report 2004-2005